Friday, March 7, 2014
This month, after the news at noon, our series is:
Mozart in His Own Words.
We're pairing quotes from the letters and notes of Mozart with historical information on the musicians he mentions, and musical selections referred to in the quotes.
Our resource for the quotes is a marvelous book first published in 1926 - featuring researched selected quotes from Mozart's letters. We have augmented this primary resource with biographical information from a variety of on-line music history sources. The book is divided into sections by topic. Among other things it is fascinating to discover that Mozart was quite a prude in matters regarding marriage, family, morals and ethics. This revelation is quite at odds with the popular presentation (due largely to the play Amadeus) of Mozart as a rough-housing gad-about flippant playboy.
The Man and the Artist Revealed
In His Own Words
Compiled and annotated by
Translated and edited by
Dover Press 1965
1st Published by Geoffry Bles, London 1926
for more information and to purchase book
For anyone interested in a glimpse of the inner workings of the genius, his thoughts on other musicians of his day (including his jealousies, rivalries and admirations), and a good deal of his personal judgements on social and political issues - it's a juicy, salacious read, like reading a diary. This is a very slim volume, light reading for one or two bedtimes.
From the standpoint of a musician practicing his works, there is not much here to give you insights into how he wants his music played, except for one or two comments about, say, pace of a minuet; but there is just enough here to be contradictory, and in these instances, the commentary by the translator seems to infer the opposite meaning from the translation. So while there is no particular revelation about musical interpretation, what we do have here is a varied array over time of the thoughts of the man... and knowing his tastes can help a good musician get inside his thought process, and that is good for musical color, which helps any performance.
This is a book that has been sitting on our WSCL library shelf for many years, and I had overlooked it for quite a while. It is one that I will definitely revisit again over time when this series is over, and definitely worth a read for anyone who just can't get enough Mozart!
Thanks again to our S.U. practicum, Jennifer Reeves who was my research assistant on this series, sorting out the more interesting and revealing (or amusing) writings from the less interesting, and compiling them for use.
Kara Dahl Russell
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Kate Prestia-Schaub, Piccolo
Marin Kennedy, piano
ISBN# 8 84502 95273 6
Kate Prestia-Schaub's Official Website
This is a CD of recital works for piccolo + one (piano), and solo works, almost all new works by living composers. Prestia-Schaub is passionate about expanding the repertoire for piccolo, and, having won many awards, she is placed perfectly to do so. She also receives rave reviews as a supportive and inspiring teacher.
Valerie Milot, harp
Les Violons Du Roy, chamber orchestra
Claire Marchand, flute
ISBN# 7 74204 99902 5
Valerie Milot's Official Website
Milot is the new "it girl" of the harp, having won many coveted awards, and indeed, having the opportunity to record these historic works with the renowned "Les Violons Du Roy" could be said to be another coverted award in itself. Either through the recording process, or through choice of instrument, the sound of the harp on these works has a very crisp, crystalline sound that is very much like the sound of the historic single action harps that would have premiered these works. This sound fits perfectly with the historically accurate approach of this orchestra, but some modern ears may find this tonality a bit thin for their taste. Only a very few, highly favored harpists get to record this "big 3" of harp works... to have them all on one CD is a treat. The extremely well-known concertos by Handel and Mozart, with a personal favorite of mine - the one by Boieldieu. (My only quibble here is actually in this concerto; the harp entrance is delayed quite a bit, and then begins with an extended trill - a diva's entrance. In hearing many performances, this extended trill is most effective when it is extended... the effect of a breathless hush falling on the room that seems to hover like a puff of infinity. Here the trill is kept in stricter time, which lessens the magic of the entrance - makes it a little less... trilling.) Many people say they "love harp music" but don't know where to start. This is an excellent starter kit for those who like an orchestral sound.
BACH KEYBOARD MASTERWORKS
3 CD set
Andrew Rangell, piano
Steinway & Sons 30024
ISBN# 0 34062 30024 2
More Information on Andrew Rangell
Now a "Steinway Artist", Rangell continues to perform on multiple labels, and while his focus has largely been on traditional works, he spices things up with off-beat composer choices, too, and he is simply, uniformly magnificent. My delight of the week, this is another great gift idea. In this case, the traditional works played on a modern instrument, which makes the works very accessible to the modern ear.
Westwood Wind Quintet
Crystal Records CD759
ISBN# 0 09414 77592 4
For More Information on the Westwood Wind Quintet
Modern works for winds. Most of these new works take the fun, laughter-filled wind music of the early 1900s into a realm of today's dissonance and deconstruction that makes them pretty inaccessible for the average listener. I'd say this one is either for wind players who are game to explore the adventure on their own instrument, and those who really enjoy a musical challenge.
Anna Williams, violin
Mikhail Veselov, cello
Toni James, piano
ISBN # 6 40236 95012 2
The Neave Trio's Official Website
This CD contains a contrast of 2 major modern piano trios, by Faure and Shostakovitch. Shoxtakovitch chamber works seem to be enjoing a particular heyday right now, despite being less melodic and more academic than many other works. The Faure is very accessible, of course, and sparkles.
Thanks again to Jessica Reeves, our SU practicum who has helped to pull together photos and info. for the blog basics. Join us next week for more new releases, Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell
Friday, February 21, 2014
Solo Piano Works
Jenny Lin, piano
Steinway & Sons 33028
ISBN# 0 34062 300028 0
Jenny Lin's Official Website
Jenny Lin never fails to put together exciting musical ideas. Her magnificent playing is matched by imaginative programming that brings a big punch to her releases. After last year's release of incredibly accessible virtuoso arrangements of broadway and film melodies, this one is not destined to fly off the shelves as quickly, but is meritorious. A collection of piano works (and transciptions of orchestral works for piano, by Igor Stravinsky.
New Works for Flute and Guitar
Heather Holden, flute
Bradley Colton, guitar
ISBN# 7 8786-71275-2 0
The Arc Duo's Official Website
The Arc Duo is appearing here at Salisbury Univeristy next week as part of the 6th annual Guitar Festival. Last month we opened up their CD with folk tunes and very accessible works. Today's CD has all modern works, some more challenging. Several works would appeal to the "new age" listener, evoking the flow of water. For more information on the annual guitar festival, go to
Kevin Gebo, trumpet
ISBN# 8 84501 93267 7
Keving Gebo's Official Website
My Delight of the Week! A true "crossover" CD that would appeal to many different listening tastes, Gebo joins a variety of musicians to create a truly mixed offering. Some impressive modern works, but mostly a mix of traditional works (Amazing Grace & America the Beautiful), and well-known favorites in new arrangements.
Thanks to our S.U. practicum Jessica Reeves for her help pulling the blog information together.
Kara Dahl Russell
Friday, February 14, 2014
Our selections this week boost the spirits with rising winds... either the instruments, or the inspirational story of "average Joe makes it big." Jason Vieaux's new release is dependably expert, and Beethoven's basics give us a great starting platform.
New Sydney Wind Quintet
ISBN# 8 85767 47307 2
The New Sydney Wind Quintet's Official Website
My Delight of the Week.
A mix of traditional works for winds, rarely heard works, and a new one, too. For an in-depth review of this CD from "Limelight", click this link: Review of Quintopia
ISBN # 7 8786 71287 2 5
Jason Vieaux's Official Website
Even some of the well-known works are not the "usual line-up" of recital favorites, but a great deal of audience favorites, including works known from film scores. An egaging mix of works make this CD by guitarist Vieaux stand apart. I handed this to a "solo guitar lover" for a listen before airing... one or two (the more modern ones) were too frenetic for her taste, but overall she thought is was very enjoiable.
Paul Potts, tenor
and Various Artists
ISBN # 8 8843 01047 2 3
Paul Pott's Official Website
This film was slated for release in the U.S. this January, but other than hitting the film festival circuit, it has not yet opened on "this side of the pond." This film version of the life story of a singer discovered in the first season of "Britain's Got Talent," Paul Potts. The score features Pott's voice in great operatic works, as well as more established singers on the soundtrack like Mario Lanza and Vittorio Grigolo (and the obligatory pop songs added by Taylor Swift and others). I handed this to a "tenor-loving" friend who backed up my initial feeling that Pott's voice does not fare particularly well compared to the well known, well-trained voices. But for those who just like to hear heartfelt singing of popular operatic works, it stands up well. As with many film scores, it is probably most effective in context.
The Piano Sonatas Volume 2
Steven Masi, piano
ISBN # 8 84501 94365 9
Steven Masi's Official Website
We previewed Volume Two of Masi's recordings of Beethoven's piano sonatas today. Op. 14 nos 1 &2, No. 31 in A flat Major and the "Appassionata" are a nice mix of the latter well-known and some less familiar sonatas. It is hard to do justice to these long-term intensive projects, when artists commit themselves to recording complete bodies of work... other than to just mention that this is a major life-changing event in the lives of the musicians who take on these big projects - meritorious.
Special thanks to our S.U. practicum, Jennifer Reeves, for her help compiling the skeleton of this blog post. Join us next week for more great music, Just Opened!
Kara Dahl Russell
Friday, February 7, 2014
We celebrate great artistry today on Just Opened, with the new release of this year's New Year's Concert from the Vienna Phil, Gena Raps' interpretations of Brahms piano works, and Anne Akiko Meyers topping her own previous duo - this time with a self-trio!
NEW YEARS CONCERT
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
SONY 88843015642 (2 CD set)
ISBN # 8 8843 01564 2 5
More info on the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
My Delight of the Week!
This annual concert has become a must-see annual event around the world. The joyous, infectious music of the Strauss family and their contemporaries, performed in a glorious hall, always led by a magnificent conductor, played by some of the world's best musicians. Enjoy!
BRAHMS Late Piano Works
Gena Raps, piano
Musical Friends NY 2013
ISBN # 7 00261 37833 6
More info on Gena Raps
I adore this cover photo!
Ms. Raps' hands betray the intensive manual labor that great piano playing involves. With an international carreer of solo works, chamber and orchestral works, and a "Season's Best" nod from Sesame Street Parenting Magazine, co-stars like Julie Andrews and Peter Schickele (PDQ Bach), Raps can record what she loves. She is Music Editor of an online magazine, and has taught at numberous conservatories, including her alma mater, The Julliard School.
The Vivaldi Album Album
Anne Akiko Meyers, violin
English Chamber Orchestra
David Lockington, conductor
ISBN # 0 99923 77902 5
Anne Akiko Meyers' Official Website
In the aftermath of an international news-making theft of an historic violin, we get to hear a different great instrument in the hands of the magnificent Meyers. In her last venture, she recorded a Bach duo with herself... this time she triple tracks it with Vivaldi's Concerto for 3 violins. She knows how to set a challenge without making it intimidating... like adding a short Arvo Part work in with the best known Vivaldi work. This CD is a sure bet for lovers of traditional works and violin majesty.
Special thanks to our S.U. practicum, Jennifer Reeves, for gathering the basic info. for today's blog. Join us next week for more great music, Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell
Thursday, January 30, 2014
It's nice when new releases arrive in a timing that showcases them in a way that also throws light on a particular time period of music. Today's selection enables us to explore Claude Debussy, both what inspired him, and the influence he had on other musicians.
TRIO QUELQUE CHOSE
Works for horn, piano & violin
Greg Kostraba, piano
Rico McNeela, violin
Robert Garcia, horn
ISBN # 8 88295 00028
More info on the trio
Works on this CD combine that almost uniquely late-romantic era pairing of horn, strings and piano. Music of Brahms, and Debussy's contemporary Charles Koechlin - a "secondary" composer whom I like quite a bit, as well as some spice of Piazzola and 2 composers of today. This is a varied and thoroughly tasty CD... could I get a cafe latte to go with this? ... and perhaps a milk-bone?
Elizabeth Hainen, harp
Jeffrey Khaner, flute
Robert Diaz, viola
ISBN # 8 22252 22852 6
Hainen's official website
My Delight of the Week!
Thank you Avie Records for providing us with promo CDs for our listeners. Elizabeth Hainen is among the top tier of harpists working internationally today, and this CD demonstrates both incredible solo works and her chamber work with other musical lights, such as flautist Jeffrey Kahner and violist Roberto Diaz (who is current head of the esteemed Curtis Institute, and who performed here in Salisbury for the SSO last year). In addition to Debussy's Dance Sacre & Dance Profane, a perennial favorite, Hainen plays her own arrangment of some Debussy piano works which are my favorites of the CD. This CD also highlights works of Debussy's contemporary and friend, Andre Caplet, whose work is more challenging, and consequently less well known, but Hainen's selections are spot-on for both showcasing the variey of his work, and his major chamber work influenced by Edgar Allen Poe. BTW - for those of you who pay attention to these things... even though I am a harpist, many times a harp CD is NOT my favorite of the week. This one is so engaging, it is constantly on my CD player at home!
Chamber Music of Clara Kathleen Rogers
Delight Malitsky, violin & viola
Judith Radell, piano
ISBN # 8 84501 92024 7
Info on Rogers' life and compositions
One of the joys of today's music scene, the ability of artists to produce their own recordings, and the preponderance of small chamber recordings, is the opportunity to become acquainted with the works of lesser known composers like the one featured in this CD, Clara Kathleen Rogers. In the past, these works might have disappeared even before the composer's life had ended. Today we can both get a fuller taste of the "minor composers" that completed an historical music period, and enjoy the works over time.
Piano Works of Debussy, Griffes and Ravel
Mary Towse-Beck, piano
Album available on multiple sites online
Towse's official website
This CD of comparisons of turn of the century works is another strong statement that helped form today's collection of works focusing on Debussy. Works by Griffes, as well as Ravel and Debussy. I find CDs like this to be a marvelous touchstone on well-known works, to hear and study interpretational differences brought out by accomplished musicians like Mary Towse-Beck.
THE PRELUDES BOOK 2
Histro Kazakov, piano
Album available on multiple sites online
ISBN # 8 84501 90287 8
Kazakov's official website
This CD is one of 2 by Kazakov that focus on Debussy, the other (which we'll officially "open" in a few weeks) pairs works of Debussy with those of Scriabin. Bulgarian-born, Swiss pianst Kazakov has toured extensively in Europe and the East, and these recordings were made for Bulagarian national television and RFI France. He is recognized as a soloist and for his performances of chamber works.
Thanks to our SU practicum Jennifer Reeves for her help setting up the skeleton information of today's blog. Join us next week for more great music, Just Opened!
Kara Dahl Russell
Friday, January 24, 2014
"Old and New" is our theme today on Just Opened as we premier new releases of works... old and new. From well-known names like J.S. Bach and Napoleon Coste to modern composers Michael Roberts and Michael McLean.
Music for Viola and Orchestra
Roger Myers, viola
London Symphony Orchestra
Michael Francis, cond.
ISBN# 0 13491 34412 6
more info. on Myers
Keyboard Solo Works In Italian and French Taste
Linda Burman-Hall, harpsichord
ISBN # 6 81585 10862 8
more info on Burman-Hall
Rotterdam Philharmonic Chamber Players
ISBN # 6 81585 1186 2 7
more info on Kerry Turner
Phillip Hemmo, guitar
ISBN # 8 88295 01127 3
more info on Phillip Hemmo
Micheal Roberts, composer and piano
CD available online, multiple sources
ISBN # 6 59570 302540 2
more info and CD purchase: Roberts' official website
Thanks to our SU Practicum, Jennifer Reeves for putting the blog together.
Kara Dahl Russell
The views expressed in the posts and comments of this blog do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Public Radio Delmarva, its staff, members, underwriters, Salisbury University, or the Salisbury University Foundation. They should be understood as the personal opinions of the author. No information on this blog will be understood as official.